Good Afternoon Walnut Ridge Families,


Lots of items to keep everyone up-to-date as we begin a new month!



  • Parent/Teacher Conferences

As a reminder, our conferences are scheduled for  November 5th, 6th, and 7th. The time slots will be during the following time frames for  November 5 and 6 : 9am – 12pm, 1pm – 3pm, and 4pm – 7pm and November 7th: 9am – 12pm and 1pm – 3pm.

If you have yet to sign up for an appointment with your child(ren)’s teacher, please use the links below (these links are also included in digital form on my most recent Principal’s Blogs):

Sign-up Genius links to November 2018 Parent-Teacher Conferences


Mrs. Bicskei              Click Here

Mrs. Cook                  Click Here

Mrs. Lombardi          Click Here

Mrs. MacDougall      Click Here

Mrs. Vanderbeck      Click Here


Speech Therapists:

Mrs. Hammil            Click Here

Mrs. Hertlein            Click Here

Mrs. Murray             Click Here


If you would like to meet  with Occupational or Physical Therapists, please contact them directly to arrange a conference:

Marlene Zerbe (OT) Monday evening drop in and/or email

Kelly Bronzini  (PT)


2) Scholastic Book Fair

When you come to Parent Teacher Conferences please remember to leave yourself some extra time before or after your appointment with your child(ren)’s teacher to attend our Fall Scholastic Book Fair, which will be taking place in the All Purpose Room. I will be working the fair with Mrs. DiCarlo and we would love to see you there.


3) Fall Fun Day

Thanks to all of you for coming to our Fall Fun Day Costume Parade on Wednesday. Our kids had a great time. The day began with some fun fall-themed activities in the gym, followed by trick-or-treating in the Board Office, and culminating in our costume parade. We lucked out with some great weather! If you didn’t get any pictures, enjoy this one, or follow us on Instagram to see more.

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4) Thanksgiving Feast is coming…November 15th!

Now that it is November, we are already looking ahead to our Thanksgiving Feast event on November 15. Last year’s event was among the most memorable for many of the parents so be sure to save the date. The AM students will hold their event from 10:45 – 11:45 and the PM students will meet from 2:00 – 3:00.


5) WRAP Fundraiser

By now, even many of our newest parents are familiar with WRAP (The Walnut Ridge Assembly of Parents). WRAP is a wonderful group of dedicated parents and guardian — just like you — that want to make a difference and help support our school community through volunteerism, community service, and fundraising. WRAP is currently in the middle of a cookie dough fundraiser that ends November 15. All of you should have received a form to start selling. If you have not, or have misplaced yours, feel free to stop by the school and see Mrs. DiCarlo. She would be glad to give you another one. Happy selling!


6) Notes from Nurse Gallant

  • You should have received some information regarding a visit from the Zufall Mobile Dental Program. This program is scheduled to be held during school hours on Wednesday, December 5. It is a great way for your child to receive their dental care at school. Zufall accepts Medicaid, NJ Family Care, uninsured patients, and some private insurances. For more information, visit www. All interested families should sign and return the application by Wednesday November 7. Please contact Mrs. Gallant with any questions: 973-764-6343. For the application – CLICK HERE.
  • Did you realize that if we do not receive information regarding your child’s flu vaccine by January 2, they are not able to attend school? For more information about this see the message HERE from Nurse Gallant.


7) Picture Make-Up Date

By now you should have received your child’s school picture. If for any reason you are not pleased with the photo, the retake date is scheduled for November 13. Please communicate with your child’s teacher if you would like to take advantage of this opportunity.


8) SCHOOL CLOSED – November 8 and 9

The entire school district will be closed on Thursday November 8 and Friday November 9 in observance of the NJ Teachers’ Convention. Students should not report to school on these two days. Please also keep all our Veterans in mind on Sunday November 11. We thank you for your service.


9) Mission Statement/Philosophy Statement

A few weeks ago I asked you all to contribute to our revision of our school’s Mission Statement, by giving me words you associate with The Walnut Ridge School. I have compiled the most frequently chosen words from your submissions and used it to craft the new mission statement. Here it is, along with our Philosophy Statement. Thank you to all for your feedback.


Mission Statement


Our mission is to provide a fun, engaging, and high-quality early childhood education, while fostering a nurturing and caring community of children, parents, and highly skilled staff. Through a play-based program that is focused on the whole child, we seek to serve each and every child as an individual, and to empower each child to grow and develop at his or her own rate. Through the cooperative partnership of parents and staff, we aim to provide a model of community that prioritizes kindness and friendship and will sustain and enrich our children throughout their lives.


Philosophy Statement


At The Walnut Ridge School we believe in the importance of research-based early childhood models that empower students through innovative, play-based curricula that ultimately equip students with the cognitive, social-emotional, self-regulatory, and foundational academic skills to become ready-learners prepared for Kindergarten and the world around them. For these reasons we have fully embraced the Tools of the Mind curriculum. “Tools” has been recognized by the NJDOE as one of four “best practice” curricula for Preschool students. As a result, Tools aligns to the NJDOE’s Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards, is authentically built for the inclusion of students with disabilities, and is centered around rich, yet developmentally-appropriate, content, as well as optimizing child engagement and socialization.


Tools of the Mind is based on the Vygotskian theories and neuroscientific research in education that sought to identify the best approach to learning. His research led, in part, to an understanding of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). ZPD refers to the conceptual difference between what a child can do independently and what they can do with the aid of a teacher or skilled peer. Thus, our students are consistently placed in situations where they are motivated and challenged to strive for learning that is just within the limits of their efforted reach.  Tools teachers are focused on helping children become intentional and reflective learners, creating a classroom in which instruction in literacy, mathematics, and science reflect children’s learning capacity, rather than age-level expectation.


The philosophical Tools approach manifests itself in many ways in the classroom. One example is “play planning” in which students engage daily. Through play planning, students are able to make mindful decisions regarding how they will play in their class, therefore showcasing their developing executive function, self-regulation skills, and core academic skills. Because play plans are individualized, students are able to work at their own pace and at a level of rigor commensurate with their individual development and ZPD. Over the course of the school year, our students develop in their ability to play plan and begin to develop and scaffold skills that lead to writing, reading, and content literacy.




Principal Piccirillo